Tuesday 23rd of July 2024


Tracking the routes of Trans-Atlantic Identities. Fictions of memory in Caryl Phillips’ The Atlantic Sound

Eleonora Natalia Ravizza, Università di Bergamo pdf_icon_30x30




Abstract: This essay discusses how Caryl Phillips’ The Atlantic Sound (2000) not only narrates a series of journey across three cities whose history is indissolubly linked to the African diaspora (Liverpool, Accra, Charleston), but also investigates the ways in which collective and individual memories are mediated. A mixture of travelogue, historical essay and fiction, The Atlantic Sound intertwines the author’s personal experience as a West Indian brought up in the UK with the stories of people from different racial and social backgrounds living at different times and on different sides of the Atlantic. It also concerns the intra- and extra-psychic dynamics that allow individuals and communities to come to terms with their tangled, composite past, as well as to identify certain places as special repositories of their collective memory, or even as home. Phillips deals with remembering is a form of travelling, and travelling as a way to come to terms with the different, linguistic constructs through which individual and collective subjects narrate their past through the filter of their present. The essay analyses the narrative strategies used by Phillips to discuss his engagement with “race” ad a fluid concept, and challenges both emotional and rational responses from readers in order to destabilize their assumptions about identity and alterity.


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